AGE OF CONSENT
Australia, 1969, 95 minutes, Colour.
James Mason, Helen Mirren, Jack Mc Gowran, Neva Carr- Glynn, Michael Boddy, Harold Hopkins, Clarissa Kaye.
Directed by Michael Powell.
Unfortunately, local film doesn't quite make so good; a pity, because Norman Lindsay's story of an artist getting away from the artificialities of life and his encounter with a young island girl has the makings of an exploration of the themes of art, experience and innocence. But beautifully photographed Barrier Reef scenery becomes the setting for farce and some lame comedy drama.
One is not sure how comical the film is meant to be: patches of philosophising about art and beauty crop up: there is a death at the end. Jack Mc Gowran's Aussie bludger is good in itself but overdone here. Neva Carr- Glynn's Grandma is worse. She gets no chance to show human feeling in her gin-sodden, twitching old hag. The caricatures are too eccentric.
The attempt at depth in exploring the painter's fascination for the young girls seems thin in comparison. James Mason does the obvious things well enough; Helen Mirren is better as the rather hefty, Lindsay- like Cora; but she gets little opportunity to establish role. The possible interest and impact of the story is not exploited. What is exploited, as everyone knows, is the nudity. Some of the scenes may be unnecessary, but they are not provocative. A few more films like this, a bit more comic laughter at nudity (Jack Mc Gowran provides some here) might mean that people could put nudity in its place and not feel compelled, no matter what the context, to shudder in hot-house horror or leer and cat-call. Suitability will be a matter of taste (on a par with presentations of violence) rather than of morality.
Direction is by acclaimed Michael Powell at the end of his career, brilliant in the 1940s with Emeric Pressburger (Colonel Blimp and A Matter of Life and Death among many others). He did not work much after the controversy over Peeping Tom (1960). He also made They’re a Weird Mob in Australia.
1. Was this a successfully entertaining film? Successful Australian comedy? How successful was it as an attempt to update Norman Lindsay? What were its main entertainment values?
2. Comment on the contribution of the colour, location photography, the Barrier Reef, the musical background, the use (or exploitation) of Australia and the theme of sexuality and art?
3. The implications and overtones of the title? For the relationship between Brad Morahan and Cora?
4. Did the film give insight into the character of Brad Morahan? The personality and temperament of an artists as a man and Australians (the American sequence and discussion of his art and popularity?), the satire In the T.V. interview. his relationship with the lover in Brisbane, his changing from the city to country and Barrier Reef locations for his work? Was he a talented man? Why did he enjoy being a recluse? What gave him inspiration? Did the film make it clear why he received such inspiration? Comment on the presentation of the trivia of his life on the island. Did this help the entertainment and the plot? What impact did Morahan make on you as a man?
5. Cora as an innocent? How attractive a heroine was she? Her ordinariness of character, her physical beauty? Did the film communicate this well? Her innocence and her response to Morahan? How much did she enjoy life on the island, the swindling, the attention, the saving of money for her ambitions, her posing for Morahan? Her relationship with her grandmother? Her ambitions to be a hairdresser and to go to Brisbane? What influence did Morahan have in her life? Her reaction to her grandmother's death? What would happen to her as she grew older?
6. How much comedy did Nat provide for the film? How awful a character was he? How exasperating? How were these qualities communicated in the performance? His reasons for sponging on Brad? His dinner with the neighbours Isabel? His response to her attentions and attack? As a mean-minded person sponging, stealing sketches etc.? What did this character add to the film? Was he important?
7. The character of Ma Ryan? Was the characterization well done or exaggerated? Do people like this exist? Her reliance on drinks her attitudes towards Cora, especially sexual innuendo? Her suspicions of Morahan? Her meanness about the money etc.? What was your response to her death? Why?
8. What satirical comment on behaviour and drives did the portrayal of Isabel have?
9. How much satire was there in the portrayal of Ted,. the beach boy? His attentions to Cora? Her response to him and his transistor? Her outwitting him? Satire on the Australian male?
101 What did the portrayal of the town, the shops, the personalities? the atmosphere of Queensland and the Barrier Reef add to the film? How effectively?
11. What should Morahan and Cora have done when Ma Ryan died? Were they right in disguising her death? In terms of conscience and justice? The reaction of the policeman?
12. What were the main good features of this film? Why was it enjoyable? What values did it explore?